Once, each countryside household used to make their own clothes and other things of wool. But, in order to knit out a sweater or weave a rug, the sheared wool had to be spun into a yarn. It was done manually, with a distaff and spindle. A wool roving is attached to the distaff and in long village evenings, when all the farm work has been done, a yarn is drafted from the roving with one hand, and spun on a spindle held in the other. That is how wool is spun. Or all the village women come to a spin gathering and then stories are spun…
RELIGION AND TRADITION
Distaffs are usually decorated with Christian symbols and everyday life scenes, seen through women’s eyes. Spinning, the distaff, the spindle and the yarn symbolise meeting of the eternal and the transient.
In Kаrаđоrđеvo, near Zrеnjаnin, there is an interesting museum of distaffs with over 150 different items up to 200 years old.
The distaff and spindle have their long history. They come from the Far East, as early as from the Mesopotamian civilisation. They were brought to these parts by the Ottomans. They are usually made of ash tree, but also maple, cherry and yew tree are used. There are three types of distaffs in Serbia: «bats», «branches» and «shovels».